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Local and Urban Politics

E15 - Aging in the City

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 08:45am to 10:15am | Location: SWING 110

Chair/Président/Présidente : Byron Sheldrick (University of Guelph)

Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Byron Sheldrick (University of Guelph)

Problems and Prospects for An Age Friendly Municipal Government: Meghan Joy (Concordia University)
Abstract: The Age Friendly Cities (AFC) program has been critiqued as an instance of symbolic policy - fantastic in theory but in practice programs to support senior citizens tend to be small in scale and poorly resourced. A major problem is that while municipal governments are framed as key institutions in mobilizing, designing, and implementing AFCs as a ‘place-based’ policy, their roles and capacities are often under-examined. This is unsurprising since the bulk of AFC research emanates from the fields of public health and gerontology and not political science. However, the political science literature also tends to ignore the policy-making role of municipal governments due to an assumption that municipalities simply implement policy designed at other levels of government. Instead, I argue that much can be learned about the role and capacities of municipal governments today through an empirical analysis of place-based policy-making. I conduct a case study of the AFC program in Toronto based on 77 semi-structured interviews with local policy actors to examine the role and capacity of municipal government to design and implement place-based policy. While I find evidence that AFCs are more symbol than substance in Toronto, there are important areas where different parts of the local state are supporting substantial policy work. I highlight how different features of municipal politics present both challenges and opportunities for the realization of meaningful AFCs. I offer recommendations for how to extend AFCs by mobilizing municipal institutions to make the program matter more fully in the lives of senior citizens.


Municipal Political Participation of Seniors: Theoretical Contributions: Salomé Vallette (Institut national de la recherche scientifique)
Abstract: Canada is experiencing an aging population and this is reflected in the fact that seniors are aging in cities. This well-known phenomenon forces policy makers to take several actions to adapt the infrastructure and services offered by municipalities to enable older people to age well (Garon et al. 2016). While the "Age-Friendly Cities" (AFC) model is designed to support aging in place, it is criticized as being decontextualized from the challenges of aging in today's urban societies (Minkler et Fadem 2002). Indeed, several participation concepts which the AFC model is based on have been disapproved by researchers in critical gerontology, partly because this model advocates a representation of aging that can be considered erroneous (Buffel and Phillipson 2016). This erroneous vision tends to form an injunction for the social and political participation of seniors (Castonguay et al. 2018). Consequently, the way seniors represent themselves in this local environment and how this affects their political participation at the municipal level is rarely studied. Thus, this research brings together research in social gerontology on aging in urban areas and critical gerontology on the social representation of seniors, while contributing to the literature on the political participation of seniors at the municipal level. This research aims to deepen knowledge about the political participation of seniors, both from an electoral point of view and their role in urban society, from a critical perspective of gerontology. In this communication, we will present our doctoral research project.